BELGRADE (Reuters) – An unknown Serb group opposed to cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal has threatened to kill pro-Western President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, officials say.
They confirmed on Wednesday that a threat had been faxed to the Serbia-Montenegro embassy in Vienna saying “Tadic and Draskovic should prepare themselves to soon join Zoran Djindjic”, the Serbian prime minister who was assassinated in March 2003.
It was signed by a hitherto unknown group calling itself the “Serbian Patriotic Organisation”, and it accused Tadic and Draskovic of betraying Serbia’s national interests by urging the extradition of Serb suspects to the Hague tribunal.
The president is head of Serbia’s opposition Democratic Party, once led by Djindjic. The foreign minister is the maverick leader of a monarchist party in the ruling coalition, who has accused the government of defying the tribunal.
Serbia was singled out for heavy criticism at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, when U.N. chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte presented a report that said a defiant Belgrade was not cooperating in the round-up of war criminals.
Serbia-Montenegro ambassador to Austria Mihajlo Kovac told Belgrade’s radio B92 the embassy got the letter on Monday and had immediately informed the ministry.
A copy of the fax was also sent to security authorities in Austria, which is home to tens of thousands of Serb, Croat and Bosnian expatriates from the former Yugoslavia.
“Any threat of this kind has to be taken seriously, because you don’t know what’s behind it. You don’t know what sort of organisation that is and it is more than wise to take it very seriously,” embassy counsellor Nina Dobrkovic told Reuters.
“They threaten that if the president and minister of foreign affairs come to Vienna, they will go home in their coffins.”
Djindjic, a dynamic pro-Western reformer, ordered the extradition to the Hague of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2001. He was shot allegedly by a crime gang intent on stopping reforms. But political motives cannot be ruled out.